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tv   NBC Bay Area News at 11  NBC  September 4, 2014 11:00pm-11:36pm PDT

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nbc bay area news starts now. >> i don't believe people should be personally benefitting from travel. >> right now at 11:00, he works for the public. so why is he getting personal travel perks off public money? good evening. thanks for being with us. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. you paid for it, but he got the perks. tonight the investigative unit exposes a public official wracking up rewards, perks like
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hotel points and air a points. >> jenna susko joins us with how a local department director is turning taxpayer funded conferences into a personal benefit. >> reporter: multiple sources within the department of child support services believe the man in charge is using his position of power for personal gain. and these records back it up. now the county has opened an investigation into the director's travel funding. >> because the only thing better than bacon is free bacon. >> reporter: take a look at this hyatt gold passport promotional video. the perks appear endless. for those who spend thousands of dollars on travel and have reward cards like these. as hilton honors advertises -- >> you can have it all. >> reporter: from free nights to free flights. >> will never have to raid your kid's piggy bank for a vacation ever again. >> reporter: but what about the public's piggy bank? >> i can't believe that it has gone on this long.
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>> reporter: so what has been going on? >> our request was approved. >> reporter: meet john vartanian. he is the director of child support services in santa clara county. these travel documents tell the story of a director who has gained elite status on your dime. >> well, he may have gone from gold status to platinum status be, the problem is most taxpayers right now are in mud status. >> reporter: records show john vartanian puts tens of thousands of dollars of employee travel on his personal credit card. adding his own personal rewards numbers. allowing him to rack up points for everyone's stay. then the county pays him back while he banks the rewards. >> public's tax dollars being used. so that john vartanian can go on vacation. >> reporter: valerie yates spent 25 years in the department. she retired in 2010. >> this is conscious, deliberate, and done knowing that somehow he is benefitting
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from not only his travel, but all the rest of us traveling. >> reporter: she discovered the practice at a conference when she found john vartanian's name on her room reservation. how awkward did that feel? >> oh, tremendously awkward. that's how i found out he had been doing this. so i contacted our county human resources. i never heard back from them again. >> reporter: so he went through thousand of travel documents, dating back to 2008, and compiled our own database. we found vartanian put more than $55,000 worth of hotel stays and registration fees on his personal cards. for more than 30 employees. like this trip to garden grove. nearly 12 grand went on his marriott rewards, and starwood business cards. he also got the hyatt rewards points. he even paid for employees to go to conferences he didn't attend. do you believe what he is doing is wrong? >> absolutely. >> reporter: this is president of the howard jarvis taxpayers
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association, i think from the taxpayer perspective, people are going to look at this and have raised eyebrows. >> reporter: according to county policy, frequent flyer credits earned should be applied toward future county travel. personal use of those miles is a taxable fringe benefit, and the county has no intention of providing such fringe benefits. it also states employees may use their county-issued credit card for travel. if an employee doesn't have one, the county will pay that person back. records show vartanian even paid for those who do have county credit cards. >> i think i remember saying to the woman at human resources then why couldn't i use my credit card? why is it that i couldn't do that, because i'm not the person handling the travel. >> reporter: the department has a travel coordinator, and it's not john vartanian. we did find conferences where a county credit card was used to pay for hotel, but take a look at this. vartanian's reward numbers, still used to gain the points. >> there's been conferences where he either goes and attends
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maybe one event. he is there to check all the participants or registrants in to the rooms. >> a department head shouldn't be engaged in this kind of activity. it makes me upset. >> reporter: both work this the department of child support services for santa clara county. they ask we conceal their i'd tis out of fear of retaliation. >> i think the frustration level is just so high at this point and the morale at the office is just so low. it's just not right. >> reporter: and it appears racking up points is a skill. there are seminars for it. >> anybody in the room. >> reporter: check out this abc news video documenting the practice. >> get a signup bonus. >> reporter: look who was there, john vartanian. so what is he doing with all the points? we wanted to talk to vartanian, but he refused to sit down with us. due to the internal investigation into his travel spending. we also wanted an explanation for this, a new line item and expense report that says paid by
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j vartanian. >> they add an actual line to the voucher. >> oh my god. no. no. i have not seen this. >> you don't want a situation where somebody is incentivized to misuse taxpayer dollars. and that's clearly the situation here. >> reporter: vartanian has been with the county for 13 years. he was appointed director of the department by the board of supervisors last year. we reached out to the president of the board. he says he is aware of the allegations and the county is currently investigating whether any policies have been violated. back to you. >> all right, jenna, thank you. if row have a tip for jenna susko or anyone else in our investigative unit, call 888-996-tips, or send us an e-mail correctly to theunit@nbcbayarea.com. we have new details now on a fire that was visible for miles. take a look. the store that burned housed everything from clothes to backpacks to housewares.
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now it's all gone here is the google street view before the fire. now, you can see all of these items for sale, literally overflowing on to the sidewalk. one of the big questions tonight, was there too much inside to begin with? nbc bay area's derek shore is in san francisco where crews are still putting down hot spots. derek? >> raj, i'm going step out of the way here. you can look down mission, and you can see the road is still closed. beyond that, there is still a ladder up and fire crews have been putting down hot spots throughout the evening. they've also had the road closed because of a possible collapse risk that the building currently has. this was a very hard fire to get under control because there was so much inside. and one neighborhood says it was a danger. >> difficult fire to fight. smoky, nasty. >> reporter: and difficult to breathe at a times. the ferocious blaze taking out what neighbors called the big house store. >> eventually it just went up. flames started to come out the side. >> lots of heavy combustibles, heavy fire load. >> reporter: a lot inside may be
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an understatement. >> there is hundreds of tons worth of fabric, clothing piled on top of piles on top of piles to the ceiling. >> reporter: maureen lives in the area. she says the store was so full that you couldn't get around easily, i stopped going this there because it's a hazard waiting to happen. somebody is going to get killed in there. >> reporter: two firefighters and two neighbors were sent to the hospital with smoke inhalation. but fire officials confirm they did receive complaints about the store in 2009 and 2013 of a blocked exit and clutter. both times they say the store management made changes to comply. >> fire prevention has pulled the records, and i'm sure they'll take a look at this again. but then we'll also try and determine exactly how it started as well. >> if there is a store you can't walk down an aisle with a walker or a stroller, they shouldn't have a license. >> reporter: according to the fire chief, businesses like these are only inspected when a complaint is made. so if you have any concerns about other businesses, you're
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urged to call in to the fire department at their non-emergency line. meanwhile, mission is expected to remain closed throughout the night as fire crews continue to work. power in this area has been restored. we're live in san francisco, i'm derek shore, nbc bay area news. >> we see those hoses still working behind you. thank you, derek. this fire was reminiscent of what we saw earlier this year, that five-alarm fire in china basin near at&t park. march 11, the mission bay fire destroyed a 172-unit apartment complex that was under construction. fire investigators declared it accidental, likely caused by sparks from welding or cutting work. a thousand dollars fine was leveed against the subcontractor on that project. the company has appealed that fine. damage was estimated at $40 million. a bad batch of baked good. pot brownies made five students sick at deanza high school today. richmond police say three students got sick after eating them. one rested her head on her desk and then passed out.
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she was one of two kids paramedics rushed to the hospital. >> most of the students came and told us exactly what was going on. right after that we got the name. we made an arrest. >> police arrested a 17-year-old senior who they say was charging $3 per brownie. she now faces several felony drug charges, possibly even a charge of child endangerment. his record on education, his record on jobs, his record on poverty, or lack of record on all of those issues. >> could this be our next governor? republican challenger neel kashkari greeting his supporters outside the first and only debate against governor brown. tonight's debate was fast and feisty, but did kashkari deliver that knockout blow to the heavily favored governor brown? cheryl hurd joins us from sacramento this evening. cheryl, as you know, kashkari needs to make a name for himself. what is the takeaway tonight? >> reporter: well, raj, there was a lot of mental body punches tonight. one analyst told me that he thought kashkari put the
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governor on the ropes. but there is one thing for sure. this debate tonight was very entertaining. >> no tunnels then, governor? >> look. >> quickly. >> california governor jerry brown and republican challenger neel kashkari accomplished one thing. they let people know they don't agree on any of the issues facing most californians. >> all the jobs we lost in the recession from the wall street meltdown, we got back. >> i think governor brown means well. but his 40 years in government has left him out of touch with the struggling of working families. >> reporter: he is 16 points behind governor brown in the poll, and he came out swinging against the incumbent's pet project, the proposed high speed rail. kashkari refers to it as the crazy train. the governor says it's a good transportation project to move california forward. then the question turned to tesla and the company's decision to build its $5 billion battery factory in nevada.
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>> governor brown frequently said well businesses come and go. it's not business that is coming and going. it's tesla, it's toyota, it's schwab. >> we fought hard for tesla, but tesla wanted a massive cash up-front payment that i don't think would be fair to the taxpayers of california. >> reporter: there was a heated exchange between the two when one of the moderators brought up a recent court ruling that some teacher tenure rules violate the equal education rights of the state's poor and minority children. >> if you had a choice between fighting for the civil rights of poor kids and fighting for the union bosses who funded your campaigns, you sided with the union boss. you should be ashamed of yourself, governor. >> that makes no sense. that is so false. it's so false. >> it's true, governor. >> reporter: political analyst says the young candidate proved tonight he is in the race to win. >> kashkari has made up four points since june. but 40% undecided, maybe he's got a chance. >> reporter: well, if you watch tonight's debate, you do know
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now who neel kashkari is. one of the moderators asked the governor why just one debate. the governor says after tonight's debate, everyone should know where they both stand. reporting live in sacramento, i'm cheryl hurd, nbc bay area news. she was a ground breaking comedian, the first woman to host late night tv, and a ground breaker in every way. we're at the mountain winery in saratoga, where joan rivers had her last live performance, coming up. also, celebrities' photos mized. apple's ceo says something must be done. the changes tim cook is recommending to make apple devices safer. i'm jeff ranieri. clear skies right now across san jose, but not clear everywhere. you can see we are tracking the fog moving right now into the coastline, and also san francisco. we'll talk more about your fog forecast for friday, coming up.
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a classic photograph. she'll be laughing in heaven along with her friend robin williams. joan rivers was a trailblazer, and she didn't slow down. just a few weeks ago, she performed in the south bay. tonight the millions of people she made laugh are remembering what a unique talent she was. this is her hollywood star, covered tonight with flowers, cards, and candles. rivers died this morning, several days after having a routine medical procedure. nbc bay area's peggy bunker joins us from saratoga tonight. peggy, she was just there. >> reporter: yeah, jessica and raj, this is a beautiful venue here. this is the mountain winery in
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saratoga. this stage is where joan rivers gave her last live performance in the bay area, maybe her last live performance anywhere. it was only about a month ago, august 8th. we spoke with the san francisco band that opened up for joan. they say that like everyone else, they're going to miss her terribly. >> can we -- can we talk? she was a tramp. >> reporter: her humor was not for the faint of heart. >> the germans killed six million jews. you can't fix a [ bleep ] cash rater? >> reporter: no topic was offlimits. >> she came with egg, and some people will do anything not to speak to ryan seacrest. >> reporter: one of the few female comedians of her time, johnny carson chose joann as hi regular fill-in. for 20 years she was his backup until she got her own show. the first woman to host late night television. for carson, that was an unforgivable betrayal. >> the first person i called was johnny carson. he slammed the phone down. i called him again, he slammed it down again, and never spoke to me again ever.
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>> reporter: her late night show failed after only eight months, the beginning of a personal and professional spiral. her husband committed suicide, and rivers found herself unemployed and in a sea of debt. but she fought to stay afloat and did on e!'s fashion police and countless live shows. san francisco's buffoon trio was her opening act. >> absolutely. >> in joan's case, 81 is probably the new 62. she just had a tremendous amounts of energy. >> reporter: joan leaves behind her daughter melissa, a grandson, and millions of fans who will miss her spicy brand of humor. >> without humor, none of us would be here. >> reporter: now, of course, humor was how joan got through life. she even wrote about the kind of funeral she wanted. she said she wants to be wearing valentino have, her hair blowing in the wind like beyonce, and also have meryl streep sobbing in the audience. her funeral is planned for this sunday in new york city. i'm peggy bunker, nbc bay area
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news. >> yes. she wanted us to laugh even on her final days there is some concern about the circumstances of her death. state health officials are investigating the new york facility where rivers underwent a minor vocal cord surgery. it's an outpatient clinic where she had complications during that surgery. we should add her funeral, as we mentioned is this sunday. the 49ers leave for dallas tomorrow. the question is will ray mcdonald be in the lineup? police arrested the niners defensive lineman sunday. he is facing one felony domestic violence charge. right now everything points to mcdonald playing and the niners not taking action until the case is sorted out. police investigators are going slowly to make sure they get things right. he says this kind of case doesn't hinge on the victim cooperating. in this case it would be mcdonald's present girlfriend. >> the victim can refuse to testify, but they cannot drop charges. >> even if the criminal charges against mcdonald are dropped, he
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may still face some kind of fine or suspension from the nfl. let's turn things over to jeff ranieri. we're almost at friday. >> yes, i know. the countdown son. especially into the weekend. and you can see already clear skies here across san jose. probably some of the best weather again at this hour. and even as we head throughout tomorrow's forecast. but the thing we're noting right now is how quickly the fog came back once we hit 6:00. that strong westerly wind moved in across the san francisco bay. and the cloud cover is beginning to stack up. you can see in the east bay patchy areas of clouds and 65. not only the fog in san francisco, but also areas of drizzle. and then you've got some low clouds moving into the north bay and also some of the coldest temperatures right now 57. now, as we head throughout tomorrow morning, it's going to be another start where we'll even get a few low clouds for the south bay. and it's going to be overcast for sections of the east bay, with 59. and of course the fog is going to go nowhere tomorrow morning, starting off 57. and for the north bay, starting off chilly with 52. so let's take you to the
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forecast. the reason why i definitely think that fog is going to stay put for tomorrow is the fact that we have such a strong onshore flow moving in against california. and that's also going to produce a little bit of drizzle. so to get you the timeline on this, you can see as we head throughout 6:00, 7:00, also 8:00 in the morning, we'll likely see some of the more extensive cloud cover to marin, napa and sonoma counties. pretty typical with an event like right now and stretching back for portions of alameda and contra costa county. doesn't look like a whole lot for san jose, but again, we still can't rule out a little bit of cloud cover to start. as we take you into the microclimate forecast for your friday, plenty of sunshine by the afternoon. temperatures jumping some 20 to 30 degrees in the south bay. sunny skies. 85 in san jose. close to 90 in saratoga. for the peninsula, a little bit of sun in pacifica will help your numbers to jump up to 73. foster city 77. san francisco primarily in the 60s. but if you're headed to downtown
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right across the soma district, financial district, low 70s for a little fwhit the afternoon napa, 86 degrees. hottest weather in the tri-valley. 91 at pleasanton. for the weekend, there is one day better than the other. i think saturday with some of the warmer weather may not be your favorite. we're kind of sick of the hot weather. i think sunday with a little bit of a cooldown is really going to be the best day of this weekend forecast. and real quick, we're going to leave you with this huge interstate rivalry. stanford and usc this saturday. awesome weather, temperatures in the 70s. so something goes wrong on the stanford side, you can't blame me. great weather. >> you've got a pass. >> thanks, jeff. still ahead, bigger than a plane. the new discovery from prehistoric times. and we have jimmy dancing with a supermodel tonight. >> hey, raj and jessica and everyone in the bay area, gisele bundchen is here. plus we've got larry davis, and
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know better sleep with sleep number. the recent celebrity nude photo scandal is prompting new action from apple. co tim cook talked today for the first time about hackers hitting celebrity icloud accounts. jennifer lawrence is among the victims. hackers broke in and apple servers were not targeted. but now an alert when someone tries to restore icloud data to a device that roll out in two weeks. crowded caltrain passengers will have extra space thanks to railcars from l.a. today caltrans announced it's buying six train cars from the southern california regional rail authority. the total cost of purchasing them and renovating them is $15 million. the railcars will be used to extend trains, expected to help during rush hour commutes. cal trains may start using the new cars as soon as next year. we're back in a moment with geraud moncure and a big night
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for the seahawks and 49ers. ...we need to break up. is it the biting? cuz i can stop? no! i love you and your show. it's cable. customers are more satisfied with u-verse.
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switch and we can stay together forever. forever? ow. i'm not gonna lie to you. it's also the biting. break up with cable. choose u-verse tv from $19 a month for 2 years. you have made my life special by being apart of it.enough. (everyone) cheers! glad you made it buddy. thanks for inviting me. thanks again my friends. for everything, for all your help. through all life's milestones, our trusted advisors are with you every step of the way. congratulations!
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thanks for helping me plan for my retirement. you should come celebrate with us. i'd be honored. plan for your goals with advisors you know and trust. so you can celebrate today and feel confident about tomorrow. chase. so you can. good evening. i'm geraud moncure in the comcast sportsnet studios. when the 49ers take off for the texas metroplex tomorrow and
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sunday's season opening kickoff against the dallas cowboys, it will be a bit of a home coming for wide receiver michael crabtree. the red and gold have the final regular practice today in santa clara in preparation for the boys. as a youngster, crabtree grew up a cowboys fan in dallas, and spent many sundays watching his heroes up close and personal at texas stadium. >> i'm excited, man. going back from selling popcorn and hot dogs in the stands for the cowboys and being able to play them. that's a big change. anybody got to be excited for that. i just can't wait to go back home. nfl season opener. you saw it here on bay area. raising the subbaner in front of its 12th man. seahawks trailing until russell wilson gets offensive. read option and ricardo lockett wide open. he'll do the rest. 33 yards. 10-7, seattle. later in the quarter game tied now at 10.
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marshawn lynch slipping into beast mode. he finished with 110 yards rushing and two scores. seattle wins easily, 36-16. the u.s. national hoop squad finishing up group play at the world cup in impressive fashion. the babyface assassin and his american team mates closing out against ukraine. second quarter, tied game. steph curry from way downtown. 30-27 usa. their first lead 2-zip. curry dialing long distance. he finishes with 14 points and the u.s. lead grows to five. to the fourth. the red, white and blue start to handle business. demarcus cousins on the steal. pulling down the one-handed windmill jam. usa wins big, 95-71. that's 59 straight victories under mike krzyzewski and a perfect 5-0 for the americans in group play. more news after the break. ♪
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we have big news in the dinosaur tonight, this giant dino has been dead more than 70 million years. but its bones are making news. they're the first of their kind ever found and the biggest. the plant-eating dinosaur was equal to a dozen elephants squished into one body. the researchers who found it in the argentina's patagonia region said it was so big it had no
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enemies. that's why he named it drednautis, which means fears nothing in latin. 17 million years ago, he had no enemies, and for good reason are. >> huge. thanks for joining us tonight. we're almost to friday. >> just a few more hours. >> see you tomorrow. >> bye-bye. >> steve: from studio 6b in rockefeller center in the heart of new york city, it's "the tonight show starring jimmy fallon." tonight, join jimmy and his guests -- larry david. gisele bundchen. musical guest, jeezy featuring
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future. and featuring thgendary roots crew. >> questlove: 117! >> steve: and now, here's he is, jimmy fallon! ♪ ♪ [ cheers and applause ] >> jimmy: that! [ cheers and applause ] that's what i'm talking about right there. hot crowd! hot crowd! great new york city crowd, welcome. welcome to "the tonight show," everybody. thank you for being here. [ cheers and applause ] thank you for watching at home.

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